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1  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: The whole thing with the Irish relationship - An allegory? on: September 20, 2005, 12:11:56 AM
I found the whole concept of this definition rather puzzling:

"Countries that score a low power distance are, for example, Israel, Sweden and Ireland." (source,

Narrowing it down to the relevant country in this debate, Ireland, it seems to imply that all Irish are the same in terms of their relationship with the state and the rest of the world.".

Power-Distance is one of the more bizarre "cultural indicators" used - an exercise in stereotyping if ever there was one. It was based on a questionnaire given to IBM employees the world over and a fundamentally flawed (as I argue for what its worth) yet widely used concept. Culture is clearly something that is ‘grasped’ not recorded and noted statistically. Anyway back to topic…

I used it and this made me see the relationship between Juan and John in a different light. Before I guess I had assumed that they both stumbled along and the film was a great buddy story with vague political undertones. Reading Frayling, analysing the relationship and Leone’s politics has opened this film up to me. The film does comment strongly on ideology, if not power and the relationship between Juan and John is part of that.. 

"I must disagree too with the assumption that Juan sees his position in society as fixed. He is an outlaw, not a revolutionary.".

Juan wants money but his views on life are best summed up by the Book reader’s speech. Yes he wants to get one over society, yes he has little respect for society but he does not think he can become powerful member within that society – ie he will always be dominated by an ideology. His beliefs are more Animal Farm than Che Gavaura’s Guerrilla Warfar.
2  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: The whole thing with the Irish relationship - An allegory? on: September 15, 2005, 11:45:32 PM
In fact, the moment in more nuanced than that. John/Sean has already rejected revolution with a capital R once before (when he tells Juan at the beginning that "one was enough for me.") Juan's interference in his affairs drives John/Sean back into the arms of the local revolutionaries, but John/Sean remains cynical about their enterprise. In fact, his primary motive for particpating seems to be to use it to get even with Juan. When John/Sean throws away the Bakunin, it is an act of affirming what he already knows. It is also the moment when he finally views Juan as an equal.

The film is less about power relationships than it is about a developing friendship. Thank God.

Mmmm - not sure that John has rejected revolution really. Why when the pair eventually get to Mese Verde  and the scene under cafe where the "bank" robbery is planned when they all shout viva la revolution (I KNOW its not that but can not remember the phrase) John is noticeably vigorous in his support. He is cynical about it and is involved to “get rid of some uniforms” but clearly  also has a belief. This scene is the point when he finally gives up  that belief.

As for developing friendships - at a certain level that is  about power. A cynical analysis yes, but entirely appropriate for a very cynical film.

Even the final act of John killing himself is about him being one step ahead of Juan…
3  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: The whole thing with the Irish relationship - An allegory? on: September 15, 2005, 10:02:10 PM
I am not sure if a great deal of plot-realted material can be taken from the flashbacks - John is haunted by his past and Leone uses flashbacks to contextualise his behaviour - only someone of Leones skill can use such a dated mechinism and cheesy cheesy music
and still maintain credibility. On top of this I think that the eyebrow movements, smiles wink-wink, nudge-nudge is more commentary on film making at that time, creating super kitch context to parody rather than real insight into important storyline issues.

Some slightly wanky thoughts of mine of the relationship part of an assignment - applying Power distance ( to a cultural artefact - in this case OUTTR. Different take on the discussion about class.

I chose to oppose an intellectual…with a naïve peasant…from there you have the story of Pygmalian reverse…the naïve teaches the intellectual a lesson…finally the intellectual throws away his book of Bakunin’s writing -  Serge Leone[/i

John is Irish, a low PD culture (Hofstede, 1983; Jandt, 2004) and has a maverick, individualistic attitude showing disregard for authority. Juan believes that his place in society is fixed no matter who is in charge and he has little chance or inclination for social mobility. His assertion that “My Land? My land is me and my family” and criticism of former bandit hero Pancho Villa who was made a general and corrupted by power shows his attitude to revolutions. (Frayling, 1998). When people from two different PD cultures interact, misunderstanding is likely if they do not understand the other person’s PD orientation (Gudykunst, 1997). John has insight into Juan’s PD orientation - aware of the disempowered position of peasants in Mexican society he has joined the revolution. However, he takes advantage of Juan and a paternalistic relationship develops (Frayling, 1998) with Juan following John into a series of acts that inadvertently make Juan a hero of the revolution. John replicates the PD relationship that Juan faces in his own country by imposing a high PD between them, holding back key information and misleading Juan (Hofstede, 1983). The development of this relationship type between high PD and low PD counterparts is recorded in research examining American Managers (low PD) relations with their Mexican counter parts (Stephens G. K. & Greer C. R. 1995) and the director Leone is parodying the paternalistic attitude of the American film industry to the Mexican revolution in this relationship (Frayling, 1998).

Once Upon a Time…the Revolution also parodies the relationship typically seen in Zapata westerns, that of an outsider being persuaded to join the cause of a “primitive rebel”. In fact John is turned against the ideals of the revolution by Juan the “reverse Pygmalian” effect described by Serge Leone. We see this when Juan gives a speech about the revolution which results in John symbolically throwing his copy of Bakunin’s The Patriotism into the mud (Appendix One). The cynicism of Juan reflects his experience in a high PD culture and belief that his place is the same no matter who is in charge. The moment is symbolic in the film as the point where John looses faith in the intellectuals who are driving the revolution. In a sense John “joins” the high PD society as PD between him and the leaders’ increases. John does not think that the decision making of those in power should not be challenged but accepts the reality of suppression by a dominant ideology. Whilst Hofstede states that in a high PD society the “way to change a social system is by dethroning those in power” (Hofstede, 1983) Juan’s, and eventually John’s attitude to the revolution does not support this. His beliefs are more aligned with George Orwell’s Animal Farm than Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare.
4  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / Re: The Rape Scenes on: August 29, 2005, 08:58:30 PM
I've seen the full version - it was shown at a Leone festival at the British Film Institute a few years ago plus recent DVD release version. Lets get facts straight – Deborah is raped.

Alan Shearer's comments clearly demonstrate the misogynistic elements of the film - female characters depicted as manipulative temptresses who either deserve a good slap or in fact like a good slap. Men led into these acts by said temptresses evil work!!! Bit archetypal characterisation going on I think.

True at the end of the day it is the individual perspective that counts and we do not need to be spoon fed consequences that make us feel justice is done but without a degree of direction by Leone it leaves the film feeling like the work of a bitter old man.

Are there any female fans of this film out there??!!

5  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In America / The Rape Scenes on: August 24, 2005, 05:51:32 PM
I am a big fan of the epic operatic scope of this film (and can not understadn why ipeople find it so hard to follow - watch it and concentrate!!) - however I have never been able to justify the explicit rape scenes. The films heroes are the perpetrators and there seems to be an uneasy acceptance of this throughout the film. This has always left a misogynistic feel about the movie i.e. sometimes no means yes. I know that Leone films generally are women free zones but this seems to cross the line.

Am I missing something?
Was Leone such a bitter old man by then that it impaired his judgement or is it just another paradox to this movie?
6  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re: Leone Analysis on: August 24, 2005, 05:34:52 PM
Thats great - a very helpful source.

Thanks for your help Groggy.
7  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Leone Analysis on: August 24, 2005, 01:27:16 AM
Hi all

I have just found this site as I am currently studying a Masters in Comm.  A project of my Crosscultural study needs to analyse a cultural artifact using a cross cultural theory - any how to get to the point I think this is a good film to go with - comparing characters of John and Juan using cultural  indicators - Geert Hofstede’s for thoses academics out there.

There are loads of sites analysing Leone films but I wondered if you guys might be able to point me to good sites or if anyone had any thoughts about the comparison of their characters from a crosscultural perspective!


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